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Eliza Gilkyson

A Conversation with Eliza Gilkyson(continued)

EG: It's hard for me to even talk about it, actually. And I'm very bad when I get the awards. I stand up there like an idiot. I get blank. It's something I need to change. I'm so used to not doing this, that I'm always surprised and dumbfounded, because I've had a whole career of non-acknowledgement. It has been a great career.

PM: [laughs] There's no blueprint for acknowledgement, right?

EG: No, there really isn't, exactly. So I really am having to--I need to learn the language of acceptance and gratitude.

PM: [laughs]

EG: And mostly I'm just grateful I've been able to play music my whole life. I've got it kind of honed down to that, that I just feel lucky that I've been able to make it in music on any level. But now to get all of this acknowledgement, it feels wonderful. And there are a lot of people who really have been part of that. And certainly in this town, the radio has been--God, they've just been on it.

PM: Is the radio in this town all over your record?

EG: Well, KUT has been really good about playing the political stuff. They've been fearless about it. And KGSR, they shoot it in where they can, but they're a Clear Channel station, so they--

PM: Oh, right, they can't--

EG: Yeah, they have to be careful. But I think KGSR has done as much good as KUT, in that they've just been playing the songs that really feel good on the radio.

PM: So what do they play?

EG: Well, they've been playing "Paradise Hotel," which is a dark song.

PM: Yeah.

EG: And they played "Hard Times in Babylon," which is about a suicide. I mean, they have been just great. They don't play the political stuff, but they're not just playing the happy tunes. [laughs] I don't think I have any happy tunes.

PM: Oh, happier--

EG: No, I do, yeah. I have "Borderline," and they played "Borderline."

PM: "Borderline" is a great song.

EG: But they went big on "Calm Before the Storm," that duet with Shawn Colvin. And "Calm Before the Storm" is about what I think is going to be the massive correction that is coming down the pike for this country, and so that is not a perky, shiny, happy song.

PM: Can we talk about that, what you mean by "the correction"?

EG: Sure. I think we are in for a correction. I think we have carried our greed game, our consumer game, to a point where we are going to have to be smacked around by reality. And we've not heeded the warning signs. And I think we're all to blame for it, because I think we're all incredibly comfortable, and we have a lot invested in our comfort right now. I mean, I don't know how that correction is going to manifest. But I think a lot of that depends on what kind of communities you live in and how civilized people are. But I think we saw in the South--in New Orleans--what happens when people don't have basic necessities, and they--a couple more disasters like that, and I think systems could fail. And the fact is our deficit--the people pooh-pooh it, the deficit doesn't mean anything, but [laughs]--

PM: The hell it doesn't.

EG: It means that when all the balls fall down to the ground and we have to face reality, it's not going to be a pretty picture. So I don't want to be the bearer of gloom and doom and apocalypse, or anything, but the only way out of the mess we're in is to face reality. And that is going to require a tightening of the belt and a sense of doing without that I don't think any of us have known in our lifetime, that's for sure.

PM: Yeah, because our whole M.O. really revolves around comfortableness.

EG: I know. And I think we're all to blame. I don't think this is an along the party line thing. I mean, we know the Bush regime is off the map, that they're not sane, they're not good businessmen at best. [laughs]

PM: Right.

EG: But the Democrats, I mean, we've consumed oil, and we've been an empire on the march through Republican and Democratic regimes. So consumerism is a disease that we're all falling prey to. Yeah, I don't know how we're going to stop. But one thing I know is we didn't find happiness with all our flat screen TVs and everything.

PM: It didn't turn out.

EG: No, it didn't buy us anything. So I think this correction may actually be that we may find a fellowship that we haven't had. Certainly, hopefully, it will build compassion. I hope it just doesn't turn us all into animals, you know, every man for himself. I think carrying the humanist flame through what comes is going to be the real challenge.

PM: There are so many people in Austin right now for SXSW. Just the taxi situation, as a microcosmic element--

EG: Uh-huh.

PM: --just the way people are acting around cabs--

EG: Uh-huh.

PM: --it's scary.

EG: Just grabbing them, and fighting over them.

PM: Yeah. I was interviewing Jules Shear at a hotel on North I-35 a little while ago. And there were a lot of people waiting for the cab at the hotel. And I needed to get to the Convention Center, but had to go straight to your house because it got to be too long a wait

EG: Yeah.

PM: And I noticed that when a cab came, I was in the front seat before anybody could get there, and went, well, it shows you where you're at, anyway, dude.

EG: Every man for himself. I know, it's awful what we do. And I mean, I'm putting in a water collection system in my house so that I make sure I have the water. It would be challenging to see how much we'll share. But I wish we didn't have to get to that point. I wish that we weren't as hooked as we are on everything. But this is what civilizations do.

[And my host had served a sample of this rainwater that a friend of hers had supplied her.]

PM: You can taste that rainwater.

EG: Yes, it's rich.

PM: Yeah. And it's really--like it's soft.

EG: It's soft, exactly.

PM: Really soft.

EG: It's like drinking a great old mellow wine.

PM: Wow, that's unbelievable.

EG: Yeah, yeah.

PM: It's got no bite, no aftertaste, no anything.

EG: Exactly. It's pure. It's soft. That's exactly the word you would use. He was telling me today, he said, "Water is billions of years old, and it's just recycled. And what we're looking at when water comes out of the sky, it's just water from everywhere else that has gone through a purification system, the ultimate purification system."

PM: Wow.

EG: Yeah.   continue

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